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Women and girls are bearing the brunt of the worst drought experienced in Kenya for 40 years, which is exacerbating the risk of sexual exploitation, violence, and abuse.

"We have to walk for more than seven kilometres to find water, and sometimes what we find isn't safe to drink," says 39 Elimlim Ingolan, mother of a seven-month-old baby. She describes digging for water from dry riverbeds, sometimes for hours, often without success.

Ms. Ingolan is speaking at an outreach session in village of Lokapararai, in Turkana county. The session, supported by the UN reproductive rights agency (UNFPA) is one of many aimed at bringing sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence protection services, to women and girls affected by the prolonged drought currently ravaging the region.

Dried up

In some areas, over 90 per cent of water sources have dried up and, as crops fail, and families lose their livestock - which, for many, is their only source of income - more than four million people are grappling with acute hunger. An estimated 134,000 women are currently pregnant or breastfeeding in drought-affected regions of Kenya; many are now malnourished and anaemic, conditions which can be life-threatening.

It is usually women and girls who are sent to fetch water; because of the drought, they have to walk even further, and wait for hours at boreholes. This puts them at greater risk of violence, at a time when hostilities among communities desperate to secure scarce resources, are mounting. With hundreds of thousands of Kenyans forced to move in search of survival, vulnerable women and girls have little to no access to critical health facilities or protection and support services - at the very time they need them the most. There is evidence that gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, and child marriage have risen since the drought, as families marry off their girls to pay for food or cattle.

Safeguarding health, rights, and lives

To help protect women and girls from the drought's fallout on their health, safety and well-being, UNFPA is distributing maternal health and dignity kits across Kenya. These kits contain essential hygiene supplies for women and girls, and items to support new mothers, as well as a solar-powered torch and a whistle to call for help if needed. UNFPA also provides free referrals to hospital and ambulance transfers for women with obstetric and new-born emergencies.

From October 2021 to June 2022, UNFPA reached more than 186,000 women and girls with sexual and reproductive health support. The agency also supported over 60,000 with gender-based violence response and protection services, including mental health support for more than 45,000 survivors

Joint appeal

But much more support is needed: the UN is calling for $320 million to support more than four million people in dire need of assistance through a joint drought appeal. It is feared that, if forecasts of failed rains during the October to December season prove accurate, millions more vulnerable women and girls risk being affected by the crisis.


Source: TheSaturdayStandard

In a country where the maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world, a small clinic dedicated to reproductive health care for more than 200,000 people is about to be shut down. The worried-looking mothers know too well what might happen next. “If the hospital closes, we will die more because we are poor,” said one expectant mother who gave her name only as Chuti. She was attending a monthly checkup at the Mingkaman reproductive health clinic in this town on the White Nile River, and it might be her last.

The United Nations has said it intends to end the clinic’s operations by December because of a lack of funding from European and other supporters. It is just one casualty among many in developing countries as humanitarian donors have been stretched by one crisis after another, from COVID-19 to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.N. would not say how much it costs to run the clinic. A loss like the clinic is of critical importance for people in places like Mingkaman, which along with the rest of South Sudan has struggled to cope with the aftermath of a five-year civil war, climate shocks like widespread flooding and lingering insecurity that includes shocking rates of sexual violence.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has said the war in Ukraine has led to a dramatic cut in funding for emergency medical care for people who have been sexually assaulted. “It’s not that sexual violence ebbs and flows, it’s going on all the time, largely unseen,” commissioner Barney Afako said. The commission also has asserted that the government has failed to invest in basic services like health care. This reproductive health clinic in the capital of Awerial county in central South Sudan serves a community largely of people displaced by the civil war and the floods. It is where women who once gave birth at home now come to deliver their children. It is also where women who are assaulted come for care.

The maternal mortality rate in South Sudan was 789 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019, according to the World Health Organization. That’s more than double the rate in more developed neighboring Kenya, according to U.N. data, while the U.S. rate was 23 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 250 women give birth in the Mingkaman clinic every month, said Teresa Achuei, the site manager with the organization IMA World Health, which runs the facility. She said she knew of only three women who have died while giving birth in the community, all of them outside the clinic.

Now, she said, hundreds of women could be at risk. “Our aim, our mission, is to reduce maternal mortality rate. Every woman should deliver safely. If the facility closes, there will be many deaths in the community,” she told The Associated Press during a visit in mid-October. The clinic was founded in 2014, the year after South Sudan’s civil war began. Set up in tents as a temporary way to serve people displaced by fighting, it remains makeshift but works around the clock. It is a center of activity in Mingkaman, a community on one of South Sudan’s muddy main highways without reliable electricity and running water. The military is present to respond to flares of violence. Many women support their families by collecting firewood from the nearby forest to sell or work in modest local hotels.

Multiple women expressed concern about the clinic’s coming closure. “It will be worsening for us because it was helping us,” said Akuany Bol, who delivered her three children there. She looked miserable while waiting for a midwife to examine her child. Andrew Kuol, a clinical officer, said the facility receives an average of 70 to 80 patients per day. It often admits 20 patients a day, or twice the number of beds. Some women must be treated on the ground. Kuol said the clinic faces shortages of medicines including malaria drugs, post-rape drugs, antenatal drugs and others, again because of waning donor support.

The nearest hospital is in the city of Bor in the neighboring state of Jonglei, where the clinic’s more complicated cases are sent. Getting there is complicated, too. With no bridge between the states, it can take an hour for a boat to cross the Nile. As in much of South Sudan, travel is challenging. And current circumstances mean few of the people here can easily relocate for health care or anything else. “These (displaced people) are not going anywhere because there is still insecurity and also the flooding,” said James Manyiel Agup, the Awerial county director for health here in Lakes state. He urged the U.N. partners to continue supporting the facility to save lives.

Source : AfriqueRenouveau UN 

Le rêve de bien des femmes s'est réalisé le 28 juillet lorsque l'Assemblée nationale de São Tomé et Príncipe a approuvé une loi sur la parité politique longuement débattue qui prévoit un minimum de 40% de sièges réservés aux femmes dans les organes élus, ainsi que dans les postes du cabinet.

Par Mariam Barry

Scroll down for the English version.

Connu depuis l’antiquité, l’esclavage consistait à priver un individu de sa liberté, elle fonctionnait donc que sous la contrainte, la violence et réduisait les victimes au rang de marchandise négociable.

L’Organisation Internationale du Travail (OIT), estime que l’esclavage contemporain touche aujourd’hui plus de 40 millions de personnes à travers le monde. Et plus de 70% des victimes sont des femmes, le plus souvent en Afrique subsaharienne, à travers les exploitations sexuelles, les mariages forcés et précoces.

See the English language version of this article here.

Suite à l'appel à candidatures de Make Every Woman Count pour notre concours de la Journée panafricaine de la femme pour 2022, nous avons reçu des contributions réfléchies et créatives de tout le continent. MEWC a annoncé les lauréates lors de notre célébration virtuelle le 28 juillet. Félicitations à tous les participants pour leurs contributions innovantes et variées sur le thème de "l'inclusion financière et économique des femmes africaines" ! Vous n'avez pas rendu la tâche facile à nos six juges pour sélectionner les gagnants des première, deuxième et troisième places. MEWC est fier de présenter les dix meilleures contributions sur son blog et ses réseaux sociaux afin de poursuivre les célébrations et les discussions importantes au cours de la semaine à venir.

Pour la version française de cet article, cliquez ici.

Following Make Every Woman Count’s call for submissions for our Pan-African Women's Day Contest for 2022, we received thoughtful and creative entries from across the continent. MEWC announced the awardees during our virtual celebration on the 28th of July. Congratulations to all entrants for their innovative and diverse submissions on the theme of ‘Financial and Economic Inclusion of African Women’! You did not make it easy for our six judges to select the first, second and third place winners. MEWC proudly showcases the top ten submissions on our blog and social media to continue the celebrations and important discussions over the coming week.

One of the world’s most comprehensive and progressive women’s human rights instruments, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) was adopted by Heads of State and Government in Maputo, Mozambique, 19 years ago today - on 11 July 2003.

Two of Make Every Woman Count's Research Fellow's reflect on this milestone: 

By Naomi Ndifon

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a global pandemic. Race, ethnicity and/or nationality have not insulated women of different age groups from the ongoing scourge of violence in all its forms. Surveys show that 1 in 3 women globally has experienced sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. In Nigeria, where the criminal justice system, put in place to combat this crisis, is rigged with patriarchy and culture overrides constitution, these numbers have drastically escalated.

By Grace Pattison

CEDAW: To fight against or collaborate with culture?

There are many definitions and aspects of culture; Kroeber and Kluchhohn synthesised these to form a useful, overall definition: “Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of an for behaviour acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of tradition (i.e., historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other as condition elements of further action.”

By Lily Biddell

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on pregnant people seeking abortion all over the world. Access to abortion varies widely and is country specific; from tight restrictions which completely ban abortion (such as in Angola and Iraq) or allow it only to save the mother’s life (Mali and Brazil), to terminations on demand until the point of viability (the UK and the Netherlands). Covid-19 lockdowns, curfews and social distancing measures have impacted abortion access majorly, causing over 5000 reproductive health clinics across the world to close. The impact has been particularly detrimental in Kenya, a country where already 43% of pregnancies are unintended. Unintended pregnancy has two main outcomes: unsafe abortion and unplanned births. 

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